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Description (Brief)
This object is a retort made by Josef Kavlier. Retorts are among the oldest forms of glassware used in chemistry. With their bulbs and long necks, they are suitable for distillation—the separation of one material from another through heating. The bulb containing the sample is heated and the resulting gases travel along the neck to a second collecting vessel.
The chemical glassware of Josef Kavalier (1831–1903) of Bohemia was considered to be among the best available for the lab in the mid- to late- 19th century. The Kavalier brand started with Josef’s father Frantisek Kavalir (1796–1853) (the family later added an “e” to make the name easier for international customers). In the 1830s Frantisek developed a very hard, resistant glass which he used to produce chemical glassware at his glassworks in Sázava. He worked with renowned Swedish chemist Jons Jacob Berzelius (1779–1848) to design new forms and shapes to replace earlier flasks and alembics, and became one of the first exporters of specially made chemical glass. Frantisek’s sons, including Josef, continued the business after his death.
Langhamer, Antonín. The Legend of Bohemian Glass: A Thousand Years of Glassmaking in the Heart of Europe. Tigris, 2003.
Frantisek Kavalir (1796–1853) was a glassworker in Sázava, Bohemia, who developed a hard and chemically-resistant glass in the 1830s and, working with the Swedish chemist, Jons Jacob Berzelius, began making glassware suitable for chemical work. His son, Josef Kavalier (1831–1903), continued the business. This retort, which came from the Stevens Institute of Technology, has the blue logo of the Kavalier firm.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Kavalier, Josef
place made
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
overall: 12.8 cm x 8.3 cm x 43.8 cm; 5 1/16 in x 3 1/4 in x 17 1/4 in
overall: 5 in x 3 7/16 in x 17 1/8 in; 12.7 cm x 8.73125 cm x 43.4975 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Stevens Institute of Technology
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Science Under Glass
Science & Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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